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Sources Say, Attorneys Unable to Locate Classified Document Trump Referred to in 2021 Audiotape; Excerpts from Tonight's Oval Office Address; Russia Rattled by Attacks on Its Own Territory, Parts of Occupied Ukraine; Three Still Missing in Iowa Building Collapse. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 18:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: We're not just about an hour away from President Joe Biden's Oval Office address. He'll speak directly to the American public about the bill he is expected to sign tomorrow. The debt limit deal narrowly averting default and pulling the U.S. back from the brink of economic disaster.

Plus, we have new video of that Davenport, Iowa apartment building just moments before it collapsed. Three people still missing as officials prepared to shift the operation from rescue to recovery.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment today. I'm Alex Marquardt and you're in The Situation Room.

We begin this hour with exclusive new CNN reporting on the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump. The former president's attorneys subpoenaed by prosecutors for a classified document that Trump discussed on an audiotape but are unable to find.

Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is joining with us the details. Paula, tell us what you are learning.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have learned that back in March, Trump's lawyers received this subpoena from the special counsel. And, in fact, this was the first time that the legal team had learned about that meeting in the summer 2021 where Trump recorded, it's also the first they heard about the classified document references in that tape.

Now, lawyers turned over some materials, but we've learned that they were not able to find the document Trump describes in that reporting, and it's unclear at this point if the government has it at all.


REPORTER: Mr. President, why did you take classified documents concerning General Milley?

REID (voice over): CNN exclusively reporting former President Donald Trump served with a subpoena in mid-March, seeking any records related to the same U.S. military document he talks about on tape just six months after leaving the White House.


REID: Special Counsel Jack Smith, Attorney General Merrick Garland picked to oversee investigations into Trump, trying to track down any additional classified materials still in Trump's possession. The former president's attorneys turned over some material in response to the Justice Department's request but not the document in question, the one Trump was recorded discussing in July 2021 at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club.

On the tape, he acknowledges he held on to a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran.

TRUMP: There is no crime. There is no crime.

REID: That tape, now in the hands of prosecutors, prompting them to subpoena all documents and materials related to Iran and Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP LAWYER: I'm not going to try the case that's being set up by leaks that I don't believe are accurate.

REID: Trump's attorney declining to address where the document is.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Has the document been returned to the National Archives?

TRUSTY: Same answer.

REID: Throughout the investigation, prosecutors have expressed skepticism about whether they've gotten everything back from Trump over the last year. Trump's attorneys turned over 15 boxes to the National Archives. The FBI recovered more than 100 classified documents from their search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, and Trump's team found additional materials in subsequent searches of other Trump properties.

TRUMP: They have become automatically declassified when I took them.

REID: Trump denying wrongdoing. And when asked if he ever shared classified information with anyone --

TRUMP: Not really. I would have the right to.

COLLINS: What do you mean not really?

TRUMP: Not that I can think of. Let me just tell you, I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them.

REID: In contrast, his former vice president striking a different tone after retaining classified materials. MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence. Mistakes were made.

REID: The Justice Department informing Mike Pence Thursday he will not face criminal charges for his handling of classified materials --

PENCE: And I take full responsibility.

REID: -- after a small number of classified documents were found at his Indiana home.


REID (on camera): While Pence will be able to hit the campaign trail without a special counsel probe hanging over him, the same cannot be said of Joe Biden or, of course, Donald Trump. They both have ongoing special counsel investigations into the handling of classified materials.

But let's be clear. The Trump investigation is much more expansive, is much more significant in part because of the volume, the difference of volume in materials that have been recovered, but also because Trump's conduct has raised questions about possible obstruction. And this week CNN's new reporting, Alex, it's revealed how much evidence prosecutors have and how significant the legal threat to Trump really is.

MARQUARDT: All right. Paula, terrific reporting from you and the team, thanks very much.

Stay with us, as we bring in our political and legal analysts. Carrie, I want to go to you first. The Trump team can't find this document, but the prosecutors do have this recording.


So, how much does that matter in terms of the special counsel's investigation?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what the special counsel is trying to determine is whether there is a version of this document. Because, presumable, the Defense Department and elsewhere in government, a copy probably exists. So, they want to know if there is a version that is unaccounted for. And so from a national security perspective, they have to track that down. Then from a prosecution perspective, they have to determine whether or not he or someone else is withholding that document.

So, they executed a Justice Department/FBI search at the Mar-a-Lago residence. What they never did is they didn't execute a physical search pursuant to a search warrant, a court-ordered search warrant, at the other locations. Instead, they're serving subpoenas, which require compliance by the Trump team. But that's different then had they executed their own search, and I still think there's a question out there as to whether they would do that. GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Or whether this document actually exists, right? I mean, could Donald Trump just have been lying to impress people?

MARQUARDT: But a very important point that the DOD could and would still have a copy of this in their system if it existed.

Abby, you've been speaking with the Trump legal team. What kind of evolution are you seeing in terms of their defense?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, when I spoke to Jim Trusty on Wednesday about this, the defense was not really much of a defense. He was basically attacking the DOJ, attacking CNN and our excellent reporting, not really offering much of a defense, and also trying to claim that Trump did two things. One, he declassified, and he also personalized this document. I think both of those arguments really are called into question by Paula and the team's incredible reporting.

First of all, there is just no evidence that it has been declassified, and that might be contradicted by Trump's own comments. And the idea that he made a national security document a personal document just, I think, would stretch credulity if you would have put it in front of a jury.

But I do think what you are hearing now from the Trump team is really not a whole lot of new information, and I said as much to Jim Trusty on Wednesday. There's no real explanation for Trump's actually conduct, as reported by CNN and as put forward by the Justice Department, as they have been engaging in this investigation. And I don't think that has really changed.

MARQUARDT: Gloria, it's rather remarkable, is it not, that this tape came about because of an interview that ghost writers for Mark Meadows were doing the former president's chief of staff, that it was from an interview that they were doing with the former president.

BORGER: For Mark Meadows' autobiography that they were ghost writing. And, first of all, it just shows you how remarkable Donald Trump is because he's so careless. I mean, if he's talking about classified information, may or may not have had a document in front of them, who are these people? Did they have security clearance? The answer is no.

And why was he talking about -- even if he didn't have the document, why was he talking about classified information, and then said, of course, according to our reporting, I'm not supposed to be talking about this, which shows you that he knew that he shouldn't be talking about classified information, which also might show us that he hadn't really declassified it as he said he waved his wand and he could declassify anything.

So, it's very important but it does tell you something about the cavalier way in which Donald Trump has always treated classified information. It's almost as if he wanted to impress these people writing a book for Mark Meadows. And the tape recording of it is, because he feels like he's been so burned in the past, that he wanted to make sure that they accurately recorded what he said.

PHILLIP: And just a word of caution from people who know Trump very well, this document may exist, a version of it probably does exist. We have questions about whether he actually physically had it. But also, we basically know that his description of what the document was on the tape, as Milley creating plans, telling him to attack Iran, that is also not accurate.

And people around Trump, you know, just caution that sometimes he -- I mean, he just fabricates things in order to try to make a point. So, there's still a lot we need to learn about what really happened here, where that document might be. And if what he was describing really has anything to do with what he may have had in his possession, it's just very unclear at this point.

MARQUARDT: I mean, this is such a blockbuster, Paula, in this investigation by Jack Smith, the special counsel. Does it tell us anything or what more do we know about the timing of the investigation, where it stands?

REID: Sure. What it's really taught me, and we cover this day in and day out, is how much they have done that we know nothing about. I mean, the fact that they have had this audio recording, the fact that they have spoken to General Milley, those were all really significant details that we had no clue of.

So, it's interesting to me. It reminds us to be humble, that we don't know everything that they know. And it's unclear exactly when they could make a charging decision, but it's clear they're in the final phase of this, and we know that because we have reporters, like Cassie Gannon (ph) and others, who are always at the grand jury.


We know the kinds of witnesses they're speaking to now, so folks that you would speak to in the later stage of an investigation, the kinds of evidence that they have gathered, the things that they have done. We know it's the final stage, but we don't know if any charges will be brought and we don't know when that could happen. But we also know is they are likely to handle this investigation and the one into January 6th separately. So, there is not going to be any waiting to wrap up January 6th to find out what they are going to do here.

MARQUARDT: And Jack Smith in charge of both of those.

Carrie, Paula's piece laid out very starkly, I think, the difference between Trump's attitude towards classified documents and his former Vice President Mike Pence's attitude towards classified documents that were found in his possession. What do you make of that difference?

CORDERO: Well, so, Mike Pence shows how a senior leader would handle this situation if the disposition of the documents really was an accident and he wants to return them and do the right thing, and it shows how easily then the whole thing gets resolved in a way that does not involve investigations that go further, does not involve potential prosecution. So, Mike Pence took responsibility. He said they weren't supposed to be there and the Justice Department does its job and it all gets closed up.

Complete opposite with the situation of the former president, which is that documents were retained, the Justice Department went down and talked to him and tried to get them back, he refused. You end up with this execution of a search warrant, which really is quite a dramatic event, to have to execute a court-ordered search warrant at the residence of a former president. And you have this investigation that has now continued month after month after month and involves now not just the issue of the mishandling of classified information but also the potential of obstruction.

And that's where I think this new reporting really plays in. Is there a document is out there that has been withheld, not provided after a court order, a subpoena to obtain it, according to legal process, and is it out there somewhere or was it destroyed, or did it never exist?

PHILLIP: It's so surprised, though, that they did not search Bedminster, to your, Carrie. I mean, Bedminster is a place that the former president spends time. And, clearly, he was dealing with documents there, too.

REID: That's a great point. And we know that the prosecutors pushed for subsequent searches. They urged the Trump team to do their own searches. And Tim Parlatore, when he was talking to me a few weeks ago, he said that he encountered some resistance initially when he was going to go search Bedminster. He encountered this from Boris Epshteyn, another Trump adviser. And now there are a lot of questions. Was this why?

BORGER: So, this is a president who turns his attorneys into witnesses, and this is every single time. And this is the problem they now have, because they've told the Justice Department, yes, we were giving you all the documents. Clearly, they were taking Donald Trump's word on a lot of this. Clearly, they did not go through all of these boxes. And so now, these attorneys, one of whom has quit publicly, these attorneys find themselves as witnesses, and they're in a very difficult situation. It wouldn't be the first time that Donald Trump has put his attorneys in tough positions.

PHILLIP: And just to make one quick point. I mean, I think we often forget that former President Trump, he has two residences that he spends a lot of time in. Both of them are basically public places. And that's why there is such an elevated sense of concern here. This is not like Mike Pence, his house in Indiana. These are basically hotels. And for that reason, I think the Justice Department has some extra concern here.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, we've got to leave it there. Thank you all so much for your perspective.

Abby Phillip will be back at 9:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN for CNN Primetime, and, again, on Sunday morning at 11:00 A.M. Eastern for Inside Politics Sunday.

Now, just into The Situation Room, excerpts from President Joe Biden's Oval Office address on the debt limit deal. We'll be sharing those with you right after this quick break.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, President Joe Biden will be addressing the country from the Oval Office in just under an hour's time. And now, we are getting a first look at what his message to the American is going to be. CNN Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is live at the White House for us. So, Phil, what are you learning?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I've been talking to White House officials throughout the day. One thing they continue to focus on is that the president wanted to talk about just how serious, just how high stakes the last several weeks have been, the gravity of the moment, something underscored by the fact that he was willing to make this address from the Oval Office, his first Oval Office address. And that is certainly reflected in the excerpts that we have seen so far, talking about a crisis averted, talking about the highest stakes of moments.

The president also talking about the agreement itself, saying, no one got everything they wanted but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis and economic collapse. We're cutting spending and bringing deficits down. Also goes on to make clear that entitlement programs, like Medicare and Social Security, which he committed to ensure were not touched, were not touched, and that almost all of his legislative agenda that was enacted over the course of the first two years was protected in this agreement.

I think that's kind of a frame to some degree when you talk to White House officials, the fact that they are able to keep the primary priorities of the House Republican majority out of the agreement but most importantly that ensured the country didn't default.

And you pair that reality, particularly given how much of a cloud this has been over the administration, over the U.S. economy and the entire country for the last several months, with today's very, I think, jarring look into where the U.S. economy is. Yet again, once again, U.S. jobs, monthly jobs report coming in higher than expected, showing the economy remains on a robust pace at this point in time, kind of going against all projections over the course of the last seven years, 339,000 jobs added, a pretty significant upward revision in the month of April as well.

I think it brings together a moment where I think the president and White House officials know they want to ensure everybody knows just how dicey things were over the course of the last several weeks and also why that leads into the coming weeks and months where White House officials believe they can make very real progress, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And that the stakes, in his words, could not have been higher. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN's Audie Cornish along with CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. Thank you both for joining us. Audie, to you first. Biden is going to be talking about the bipartisan nature of this deal that he struck with the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy.


But in this environment, this very divided environment, do you think that voters care about working across the aisle? And then this is an Oval Office address. How much of a victory do you think can he claim here?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we only have excerpts so far, right? So, we don't know how much time he will actually spend on the bipartisan part. I mean, fundamentally, he went into that deal asking for non-defense spending to go up by 7 percent. It didn't. But House Republicans went in hoping that non-defense spending would be slashed by 20 percent, right?

So, in terms of who moved, who compromised, I think that the president feels like he can confidently look the public in the eye and say, look, I protected the things that I consider priorities. And he also wants to get out ahead of what progressives have been saying because of the changes that will happen to some anti-poverty programs. They have carve-outs for veterans, for the homeless, et cetera, but there has been a loud contingent saying, look, he did not protect the most vulnerable.

So, I think that Joe Biden wants to, as people talk about the narrative, right, he wants to stop being underestimated and he wants to come out and say, look, this is what it looks like when things function, because that's where the bar is now, functioning.

MARQUARDT: And, Ron, to Audie's point there about the criticism that the president has faced from the progressive flank of his party, how much does he need to address that anger and then how much do you think that hurts him going into 2024?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Alex, this was a very revealing episode about Joe Biden, that in the end, his fundamental instinct is to show that he can make the system work. I mean, he's certainly been more critical as president of MAGA Republicans and of the threat to democracy that he believes they pose. But he did not, through this process, spend a lot of time banging the table and warning that Republicans were playing with fire, who mostly held his own fire and focused on reaching a deal, which from their point of view, he would have had to do any way in the budget process, because Republicans in November of '22 won one chamber of Congress.

So, I think he can basically say to the left of the party, I didn't really give away anything in this debt ceiling negotiation that we might not have had to give away any way in the budget, and that we are talking about, yes, what could be meaningful cuts in for the programs, but, overall, this entire process, the ends and the means were so disproportionately out of whack. We are talking about potentially tanking the domestic and global economy were these Republican demands on 15 percent of the federal budget, the domestic discretionary spending, not enough to materially change the long-term impact. So, from Biden's point of view, avoiding disaster, given what the stakes were on the other side, seems a very acceptable outcome.

MARQUARDT: Alex, also, I just want to add, there's a Chicken Little factor here, in that every two to three years, Congress has had this kind of political meltdown over raising the debt ceiling. Their appropriations and budgeting process is so dysfunctional that people see raising of the debt ceiling as a moment to wield leverage and as a moment to bring all kinds of political points into play.

And so I think the public can be forgiven for not feeling like, well, you're always going through this, how big of a deal can it be, when, in fact, it was a very big deal. And I think that the president, as we saw with his confidence about democracy, he does go out of his way to underscore the stakes when he thinks the stakes are indeed high enough, and wants to kind of punch through the noise on that.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, the president due to speak in just a few moments. Ron Brownstein, Audie Cornish, thank you both for joining us tonight.


MARQUARDT: And we have this programming note. Erin Burnett Outfront will have live coverage of the president's speech. That's at 7:00 P.M. right here on CNN.

And coming up, our live report from Ukraine, where a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the gates of hell -- the gates of war, rather, have opened inside Russia. How Vladimir Putin is responding to the intensifying attacks on the border.



MARQUARDT: We are following a series of really relentless attacks on Russian soil. Territories near the border with Ukraine hammered again by shelling, as a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that the gates of war have opened inside of Russia.

Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with an update. Fred, how is Vladimir Putin responding to all this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly appears to be increasingly concerned about all this. One of the things that we have seen over this past year, as this war has been going on, is that the Russians have felt pretty invincible on their home territory. Well, today, Vladimir Putin striking a decidedly different note. Let's listen in.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Today, we will also address these issues in relation to ensuring Russia's security, in this case, domestic political security, considering the efforts of our foes to destabilize the situation inside Russia. We must do everything we can to prevent this from happening no matter the cost.


PLEITGEN: So, he's already talking about the situation in Russia possibly being destabilized. That's something that we really haven't heard to that extent before. One of the things that Ukrainians are saying is they believe that the Russians have positioned special forces down in that Belgorod region to try and come to terms with that situation.

But one of the things that you said, Alex, was completely correct, it is a vast and large region that's currently being hit in that cross- border shelling.


Two people have been killed today, as the local governor there in Russia has said. But then we have also seen drone attacks in various areas across the Ukraine/Russia border, and that certainly is something that is expanding and that's probably one of the reasons why that adviser to the Ukrainian president said the gates of war are opening for Russians, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And, Fred, understandably, so much focus on that border area, but back in Ukraine, that very long frontline, how is that evolving?

PLEITGEN: Well, it seems as though the Ukrainians there are actually taking the initiative as well. There isn't anywhere along that frontline where right now the Russians seem to be advancing. One of the things we're seeing a lot of is long distance strikes by the Ukrainians. In fact, it seems that there was one today in the port city of Berdiansk. Of course, we've talked about this in the past. It's an important logistics hub for the Russians, possibly an arms depot hit there, although that's something that isn't confirmed. But it is one, of course, of the things we have seen a lot of, those longer distance strikes.

At the same time, the missile and drone threat here in Kyiv really is something that persists. The Ukrainians are saying in the past night alone, they took down 36 Russian drones and missiles with the air defenses here. Those are working very well. But, of course, just yesterday, we had that incident where three people were killed, where apparently a bomb shelter wasn't opened.

MARQUARDT: All right. Fred Pleitgen in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for us tonight, thank you very much for all your terrific reporting.

And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jason Crow. He's on the House Intelligence and Armed Services and Committees. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us this evening.

The Biden administration has been clear that they do not want Ukraine to carry out cross-border attacks inside Russia. Do you agree and do you think that there should be consequences if these attacks grow?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, Alex, the Biden administration has been clear that they don't want the Ukrainians to use U.S.-supplied equipment and intelligence and information to conduct cross-border attacks into Russia. But they have also been very clear that this is the Ukrainians' fight, that the Ukrainians have the ability to defend their sovereignty and homeland and that we give them flexibility to decide when and how they do that. We are not going to dictate the terms of that.

We will assist them, we will do table top exercises, we will provide advice and, of course, equipment, but we have been very clear that the limitations that we are placing on the Ukrainians are with respect to our equipment and supplies and the direct aid that we have been providing to the Ukrainian people.

MARQUARDT: And it's been one of the fears about providing the Ukrainians with long-range rockets.

You have been quite vocal, Congressman, about the F-16s. And we have heard from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, cautioning that providing those jets, those F-16s to Ukraine, that will take a considerable length of time, effort and money, General Milley said. Do you think it was a mistake to not green light these jets earlier?

CROW: Well, first of all, on the long-range rocket comment that you just made, I have been a supporter of providing these long-range rockets, these so called ATCMS, that would almost double the range of the long range fires of the Ukrainians. I think we should have provided those a month ago, because it's critical for the Ukrainians to be able to strike deep into those supply lines. And they have been doing that with drones, with special operations forces, but that long range fire would be very critical. And we have absolutely no reason to believe, Alex, that the Ukrainians will use any of our assistance to do anything in Russia. They respected our wishes. It would be not to their advantage to do that.

Now, with regard to the F-16s, I have been pushing the Biden administration to provide those more advanced fighters. Now, it could be F-16s, it could be something else. Now, the point is they need fourth generation advanced fighters to be able to combat the long range fires that the Russians have. There's different ways to do that. But the main thrust of my position and other people's position in Congress, who have supported the provision of these more advanced jets, is that we have to help Ukrainians fight the fight now and win the battles that are going on, but we don't have the luxury of ignoring the long-term reforms and modernization that Ukraine needs to get ready for a longer fight for Russia, if that's what happens.

MARQUARDT: And, Congressman, I want to ask you about China. We learned today that the CIA director, Bill Burns, he made a secret visit to Beijing last month. Things have, of course, been extremely tense between Washington and Beijing. How much do you think the administration should be trying to engage with China right now to reduce tensions? CROW: I'm always a fan of talking and diplomacy, Alex. I mean, I was an Army Ranger. I served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could tell you we don't want to go to war. We don't want to fight unless we absolutely have to. So, discussions, diplomacy, keeping lines of communication are open are essential first lines of defense for the United States.

And there's, frankly, nobody better suited to dispatch to China in a mission of this nature than CIA Director Bill Burns. I know Director Burns very well.


He's an exceptional diplomat. He's an exceptional head of the CIA. So, it was a great move to do that. And we have been doing other things to engage with them, to keep the lines of communication open, because, increasingly, there's been danger of escalation, of misunderstanding, as the rhetoric continues to take notches up. And we have to figure out ways of reducing the temperature in the room and keeping the discussion going. And the administration is doing that on a couple of different important fronts.

MARQUARDT: Yes, a U.S. official telling me earlier that the director met with his intelligence counterparts while in China. Congressman Jason Crow, thanks very much for your time and your expertise this evening. I really appreciate it.

All right, and ahead, just in to CNN, the Georgia prosecutor investigating Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election is seeking information from two firms that worked with the Trump campaign. We'll have the details, next.



MARQUARDT: Another Trump investigation that we are following tonight, the Fulton County probe into the former president's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. CNN's Sara Murray has some new reporting for us. So, Sara, what are you learning about the latest moves by the district attorney?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're in this period before she makes this announcement of whether she is going to bring charges against anyone. We expect that to come in August. And we are learning that behind the scenes, she's gone to two firms that did research for the Trump campaign and she sought information for them about the work that they did for the campaign.

And, essentially, what they did is they looked into Trump's claims of voter fraud, and in some cases, they debunked voter fraud allegations that were given to them by the campaign. In other cases, they provided more information to the campaign. They clearly refuted what Donald Trump was peddling publicly. And so it's clear she's still gathering more information behind the scenes before she makes these potential indictment announcements. This step is interesting because it could shed light into the fact that, look, people around Donald Trump knew that these voter fraud claims were baseless. They were still making efforts in Georgia to try to overturn the 2020 election. So, it could get to the mindset of some of the people involved. It could also help develop a pattern of activity across a variety of swing states. It wasn't just Georgia where they're peddling these allegations. It was a number of other states where they were trying to make these voter fraud claims stick. But they were hearing from these experts that that just wasn't the case, that the facts were not there to support this, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Sara Murray following yet another angle of the former president's legal peril --

MURRAY: To wait for indictments, yes,

MARQUARDT: -- which could come this summer. All right, Sara Murray, thank you very much.

Now, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he is making his first trip to South Carolina as an official presidential candidate, as he wraps up his tour of key early voting states.

CNN's Steve Contorno joins us live now from Greenville, South Carolina. So, Steve, what has DeSantis' message to voters there been?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Alex, Governor DeSantis is speaking behind me right now in South Carolina, where he has been sharing with these South Carolina voters his record in Florida. It is a record that is full of conservative policy victories, including a six-week abortion ban, lifting restrictions on carrying a gun in public, new restrictions on what can be taught in schools. And he has described this as a war on woke and he said that if he is elected, he will take that war to the White House. Listen to what he said.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I believe that the woke ideology represents a war on truth itself. And so as president, we will wage a war on the woke. We will fight the woke in the schools. We will fight the woke in the corporations. We will fight the woke in the halls of Congress. We will never ever surrender to the woke mob. We are going to leave woke ideology in the dust bin of history where it belongs.


CONTORNO: Now, interestingly, President Donald Trump has been poking fun at DeSantis for using that woke word over and over again. These two have been clashing back and forth in recent days ever since Ron DeSantis got in the race. Interesting, though, there hasn't been much discussion between DeSantis about the other South Carolina candidates in the race while he's been here. He's avoided talking about Nikki Haley and Tim Scott entirely.

MARQUARDT: And, Steve, the judge in Disney's case against Governor DeSantis recused himself today but he also made some accusations against Governor DeSantis. What do we know about that?

CONTORNO: Yes, Alex. The judge recused himself and he accused DeSantis' legal team of basically judge shopping and trying to push him off this case, because he has a proven track record of going up against them. But, ultimately, he also said that he had to get away from this case because he had a family member that had purchased stock in the company. And so now this case goes from this judge, who is an Obama-appointee, to a Trump-appointed judge.

DeSantis talking about this case earlier today, promised victory. He also talked a little bit about the irony of his battles with Disney given that he was married at Disneyland. Listen to what he said.


DESANTIS: We actually got married at Walt Disney World, if you can believe that. Now, it wasn't my idea in full disclosure, and I didn't think of them -- I didn't -- woke wasn't even an issue then or any of that.

CASEY DESANTIS, WIFE OF RON DESANTIS: Needless to say, we haven't been back.


CONTORNO: Yes. And his wife said they haven't gone back, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Steve Contorno live from a loud DeSantis rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

All right, coming up, new surveillance video revealing possible clues into how a building in Iowa collapsed as the community waits any news on three people still missing.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, there is new surveillance video that gives new insight into the moments before part of an Iowa building came crashing down.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is following the story for us.

So, Adrienne, what does this video show?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, you will not see the entire collapse because the power is knocked out cutting off the video recording. That is according to the person who owned the surveillance camera that captured the video. You will see what happens in the minutes leading up to the collapse. So if you take a look, you will see there are five support braces leading up against the wall. The one closest to the camera gradually bends over at least a nine minute period. We are not saying this is what caused the collapse.

About two minutes before the collapse, chunks of bricks fall near a second floor window. A lower portion of the wall crumbles. And as you know, 12 people were able to walk with the help of first responders and at least eight were rescued within the first hours or so of that collapse. Authorities are still working on a timeline when it comes to the demolition of the building.


Investigators say the next step is recovery, but certain things have to be put in place so that can be done safely. Among the three missing: Daniel Prien, Ryan Hitchcock, and Branden Colvin. We have been chatting with Branden Colvin's son, Branden Colvin Jr. He supposed to graduate from high school tomorrow, but he says he does not know if he has the strength to attend that graduation ceremony to celebrate.

Back to you.

MARQUARDT: Our thoughts are with those families.

Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much for that report.

And we will be right back.


MARQUARDT: We are now just moments away from President Joe Biden's Oval Office address to the nation. The president preparing to speak directly to the American people about the bipartisan debt limit deal passed by both houses of Congress. The White House expects the bill to reach Biden's desk tomorrow, which when he will sign it into law, thereby avoiding the nation's first ever default as well as economic catastrophe.


I'm Alex Marquardt here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Biden speaks to the nation, in his first televised speech from the Oval Office.

And tonight's message in this address will be one of victory for the president, because it comes less than 24 hours after Congress passed that bipartisan bill allowing Washington to pay its bills, right? To raise the debt ceiling. A major win for the president, and it does follow weeks of tense negotiations, and some very dire warnings of economic catastrophe. A deal that cuts spending and extend the debt ceiling coming just days from what would have a devastating default, right? And we had heard that from bank CEOs, not just from politicians.

Tonight's speech also coming on the heels of what was a blockbuster jobs report, nearly 340,000 jobs added in the month of May. That was a stunning number, and it did send the Dow surging more than 700 points.

So this is a significant event, this Oval Office address the first of his presidency.

Phil Mattingly is live outside the White House were the president will be speaking just a few minutes.

Of course, Phil, this is a Friday night, it is a summer Friday night.

What more are you learning about why now and what we can expect when the president tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, when this is put in the schedule last night, it was certainly an interesting development for a president that is never given Oval Office remarks in an even incapacity before now, despite the kind of historical significance of that moment, but also the timeline itself.

The way it has been framed, to me, from White House officials and I think you can see this from the excerpts we've seen from the presidents remarks that he will be given shortly is this is a moment after the passage of this legislation on its way to the White House that underscores two things. One, just how grave the lawmakers try to negotiate this, just how great this was potentially for the U.S. economy. I think it's something that White House officials in the president to underscore.

This is an, despite the fact, it feels like we've had these moments repeatedly over the course of the last ten, 11, 12 years. This one was different. This one is very dicey for a period of time, and yet, the White House negotiators, with their House Republican counterparts, were able to reach an outcome, a bipartisan outcome and a very big vote in the House that the president will emphasize.

But also one that White House officials believe on net is a win, or at worst may be a wash in the sense that it does not dramatically affect any of their major legislative priorities the president got across the finish line over the course of his first two years. Even some of the issues that progressives have had with this legislation, they feel like work requirements specifically, they were able to mitigate some of what Republicans wanted. I think more broadly, they feel like they kept out the vast majority of the Republican priorities in this agreement.

But more than anything else, Erin, I think particularly on this day we can see that jobs number, the wreckage of the U.S. economy's durability, and stability over the last several months has really defined the predictions of Wall Street, of economists, is the fact that the issue of default is off the table, it has been hanging over the White House and the president for the better part of the last six months.

Getting this off the table, given where the economy still is at this moment in time, and looking at weeks, and months ahead where these major legislative buyer tolls and self-imposed crises are simply not on the radar there was an opportunity here to turn the page. That is something the president will focus on.

BURNETT: Right, and obviously, just to emphasize everybody, the duration of this deal matters a whole lot, right? Because every time you get to one of these brinkmanship moments, you have a lot of uncertainty that can cause a lot of fall out, economically, right? This gets you through the election. They have agreed to get past the 2024 election in 2025, which politically I realize the significance.

So, of course, Phil is staying with us. I also want to bring Jeff Zeleny, Van Jones, Rina Shah, and Michael Smerconish in just these couple of minutes here before we anticipate the president will enter the Oval Office.

Michael, this is Biden's first speech from the Oval Office. But as I mentioned, it is a summer Friday. What do you make of his choice of venue and time?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": I find it very unusual. I think he is entitled to a victory lap, but listening to fill, it doesn't make sense to me that the purpose is to educate about a grave danger averted. If you are such a grave danger, then a week ago would've been the appropriate time to deliver these remarks.

The cynic in me says it's intended to dilute the image of the president taking that stumble at the Air Force Academy, and to end the week on a positive note because he did have a major achievement.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he is doing well and I think it must be very frustrating for people in the White House to have a win like this, and everybody talking about momentary stumble. In fact, I stumbled coming in here not over a sandbag but somebody left something out there.

So, yeah, these things happen, in that -- it's a true story. These things happen, and people talk about that and they don't talk about something that the boss did well.

And so, I think that's what you are seeing. I think people do want to take a victory lap here, it's weird.